Saturday, June 6, 2020

Good Luck With That: Why the National Football League Will Continue to Fail at Achieving Diversity in its Leadership Positions.

May 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Money, News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( Although difficult to admit, there are very few segments of American society that are not monopolized by wealthy White men. If the lyrics of James “the hardest working man in showbiz” Brown could be called into question for inaccuracy, his assertion that “This is a man’s world…” should have been sung “This is a White man’s world…” One needs to look no further than the politics behind the latest National Football League (NFL) initiative to increase the number of African-Americans in its coaching ranks to understand why I think James Brown’s lyrics should have been altered.

An industry that topped $16,000,000,000 (yes, that is 16 Billion dollars) prior to the arrival of the Coronavirus is composed of approximately seventy-percent Black players, yet very few Black Head Coaches and fewer General Managers. As I am sure that you can understand, this inadequacy is of supreme importance to a sports league desperate to avoid another racially-tinged public relations nightmare in the post-Kaepernick era. The NFL diversity committee was created to deal with this issue.

The above committee’s lone objective is to help the NFL achieve some level of diversity. I am certain that those sitting on this committee never imagined how difficult it is to get wealthy White men to do something that they have never considered, valuing diversity within their NFL team. I imagine that the following statements can be applied to elite White men who have amassed enough wealth to purchase an NFL team.

  1. Have never had many (if any) business dealings with Blacks,
  2. Are similar to most Americans by not possessing significant understanding of the creation or maintenance of racial inequalities.
  3. See no value in diversity.
  4. Move in social and business circles that are devoid of Blacks and all others who do not fit into their stratospheric economic bracket.

If members of the NFL diversity committee understood the impossibility of their task, I am sure that they have had a string of sleepless nights.

Their task?

Compelling elite White males who have never considered Blacks to be on equal footing with them in any arena to hire them as General Managers or Head Coaches. Rest assured that this is not the NFL’s initial attempt at addressing issues of diversity within the league. The Rooney Rule was created for this purpose. It forced NFL owners to interview at least one minority candidate in their search for a new head coach. Obviously, the Rooney Rule has achieved less than desired results as only four Blacks serve as head coaches of NFL teams and only two occupy General Manager positions at the present moment.

The above failure raises the predictable question of what can the NFL do to defuse a ticking public relations timebomb. The NFL diversity committee is hoping that the rewarding of NFL franchises with better draft picks for hiring Blacks in leadership positions will incentivize owners to embrace at least a surface-level form of diversity.

If it were not so sad, it would be hilarious that a league that primarily rests on the physicality of Black bodies is filled with elite White owners who believe that Black excellence begins below the shoulders; meaning in non-thinking areas. Not long ago, Black players were not considered for the quarterback position because it requires above the shoulder (thinking/mental) capabilities; meaning the ability to quickly process information. Possessors of such racial bigotry do not have to make a giant leap to reason that since Blacks do not possess the mental capabilities to be great quarterbacks, they also do not possess the makings of a great head coach or general manager. It does not matter that such idiocy does not rest on an iota of science, these thoughts have real-world consequences as they guide the decisions of NFL franchise owners.

Rarely do powerful White men realize that the privilege that served as an incredible springboard to their elite status is akin to being a pinch-runner placed on third-base with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of game 7 of the World Series. Unless everything goes wrong, they will certainly score the game-winning run and be celebrated as if it were their efforts, skills, and ingenuity that earned them that place in history. In the end, all that matters in their mind is that they scored the winning run.

Born into a world of privilege, it is easy to understand why NFL franchise owners see no value in diversity away from the playing field. Contextualized by self-serving and comforting sayings such as “the cream always rises to the top,” NFL team owners reason that just as Blacks have proven their superiority in below the shoulders activities, Whites have proven their superiority in above the shoulder activities.

Unfortunately for the purveyors of such thinking, their argument is seriously flawed. There are hundreds of individuals, the vast majority of them former athletes who happen to be Black, whose experience has provided them with enough knowledge of football that they are more than capable of assuming a leadership position within any NFL franchise. The vast majority of the aforementioned individuals will never receive the opportunity. Black players must be frustrated at their inability to break through a reinforced glass ceiling that has nothing to do with sports and their ability to head an NFL franchise.

It appears that for the vast majority of NFL team owners that Blacks are simply “not a good fit.” This is a polite way of saying that White owners are “less than comfortable” being around Black men. It is this comfort level that allows White candidates to continually knock their interviews out of the park and Black candidates struggle to a point that they are not hired. Such results have less to do with the inadequacies of Black candidates and more to do with elite White males’ inability to envision such men as the face of their organization.

I wish the NFL Diversity Committee much luck in their attempts to develop incentives sufficient enough to compel elite White males to embrace a modicum of diversity. It is a daunting task that requires them to concede that the only worldview that they have ever known may be an incorrect lens.

Let’s be honest about the fact that elite White males achieved success because of the absence of competition from other groups, not because of it. Nonetheless, diversity is a hard sell to a group of people who do not recognize such obvious realities. They believe that it was their hard work, ingenuity, cunning strategies, and attention to detail that explains their voluminous financial success. I wish that I could tell a figure like Stephen Jones, the son of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, that his success is not due to any of the above factors, it is “due to the fact that your daddy owned the company. Nothing more and nothing less.”

This entire situation reiterates one thing for certain. “This is a White man’s world…”

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.

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